‘Maisie,’ he growled down the line, ‘what the hell—?’ He stopped.

From then on he answered in monosyllables until he said, ‘All right. Will you drive Maggie home?’

She looked a question at him as he put the phone down.

‘Sylvia rang. Our mother is critically ill now and not likely to survive for more than a day or so.’

‘I’m sorry,’ she said quietly. ‘Don’t worry about me—but will you get a flight at this time of night?’

‘No, and the earliest flights tomorrow are booked out so I’ll drive. If I start off now, I’ll get there early tomorrow morning, anyway. I’m sorry.’

‘That’s all right! Just—take care. On the road.’

‘I will.’ He picked up her hand. ‘You take care too.’

The baby moved at that moment and she put her hand on her stomach with his over it.

He blinked as he felt the movement. ‘How often does that happen?’

‘Quite a lot nowadays.’ A smile trembled on her lips. ‘He or she loves doing cartwheels so we could have another gymnast on our hands.’

Maisie coughed discreetly from the doorway, and the moment was lost. ‘Sylvia again,’ she said apologetically.

For the next few days Maggie felt as if she were on cloud nine.

Don’t equate wanting you with loving you and not being able to live without you, she warned herself, but it made no difference. The long months of unhappiness, of blaming herself for her situation, of feeling that she hadn’t lived up to what he needed in a woman melted away behind her.

If he could still want her when she was eight months pregnant, maybe he always would? Had she been proud and foolish all that time?

But I didn’t know, she thought dazedly. He hid it so well. Why?

This thought occurred to her as she was walking down a busy pavement in Southport on the way to her doctor. She didn’t even notice the man who passed her, then turned round and came back to her.

Until he said, ‘Hang on—don’t I know you?’

Maggie blinked and stared at him uncomprehendingly.

‘You weren’t pregnant then and all you were wearing was a bra and jeans while you and Jack McKinnon were—supposedly, although I had my doubts—trying to get out of the roof of a shed.’

Maggie suffered a surge of sheer revulsion at the hateful way the man’s eyes gleamed, and recognition came to her. It was the journalist who’d been with the private detective when she and Jack had been locked in the shed.

When he put his hand on her arm to detain her, she wrenched it free. ‘Go away,’ she ordered and made a dash for her doctor’s surgery only a few doors away.

She heaved a huge sigh of relief as she passed through the doors and no one followed her, although she supposed it was always possible he would hang around until she came out.

Maisie, she thought. I’ll ring Maisie and ask her to pick me up. Maisie will know how to handle it.

She got out her mobile phone and did just that.

But the first question she asked Maisie was if she’d heard from Jack.

‘I just got the call. Mrs McKinnon passed away this morning. I believe it was a blessed relief.’

‘Oh, that’s still so sad. Please pass on my deepest sympathy.’ Maggie paused, then went on to explain her current situation.

‘I’ll come and get you,’ Maisie said immediately. ‘Just tell me where and stay put in your doctor’s rooms.’

When Maggie ended the call, she looked around and discovered she was in the wrong corridor.

She turned back just as a little boy, looking gleefully over his shoulder at his mother who was in hot pursuit, raced towards her.

They collided.

The child fell over, but bounced up. Maggie, robbed of her usual agility, toppled over with one ankle twisted beneath her. She fell on her back and hit her head on the floor. She passed out like a light.


SHE swam up slowly out of a deep, dreamless sleep. She opened her eyes a couple of times, but it was too much of an effort to keep them open. The third time she did it, though, she moved her head slightly and something swam into her line of vision that caused her to keep them open—a crib.

She froze as jumbled, painful memories tumbled through her mind, some memories of labour and the enormous effort and concentration it had required, memories of all sorts of people attending to her and X-raying her, but no memories of a birth.

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